Three Questions for Every Proactive Maintenance Manager

1. What does the day of a proactive Maintenance Manager look like?

What is the goal of a Maintenance Manager? To ensure that all maintenance personnel are aligned and executing the company’s proactive work to standard so that the company meets its business goals 100% of the time.

Sounds easy however it is far from that.

Here is how I have seen a proactive maintenance manager’s day unfold:


The Maintenance Manger begins the day by visiting with each Maintenance Supervisor about 30-60 minutes after their shift has begun, for 5 minutes looking for abnormalities from the past 24 hours that may impact this week’s production goal or maintenance’s schedule.

Ex: Breakdown last night on line 1 caused production loss of 12,000 units of production because of loose bolt; investigation initiated by Maintenance Engineering; one mechanic assigned to assist ME. Report due to Maintenance Manager within 48 hours when the loss exceeds a specific amount.

Production Manager Informal Meeting (10-15 minutes max): Maintenance Manager meets with production management first to determine if any issues have occurred in the past 24 hours that he was not aware of, or any issues that may arise with the next 24 hours. They both review the 24-hour production rate, quality, and problems.

Key Performance Indicator Review (10 minutes): Next, the Maintenance Manager takes a quick look at his maintenance Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Dashboard to see if any problems exist or may happen in the next week to one month. There should be KPI owners listed on the dashboard who will send a report to the Maintenance Manager if a KPI is acting in a state that maintenance and production leadership would consider unacceptable, along with an exception report for any exceptions to expectations.

  • Ex: Emergency vs. PM/PdM Labor Hours (is the PM/PdM Program working?)
  • Ex: Production/Quality Rate Stability
  • Ex: MTBF by Maintenance Supervisors’ Areas
  • Ex: PM Compliance using the 10% Rule on Critical Assets by crew
  • Ex: Schedule Compliance
  • Ex: Safety Incidents and Near Misses within the past 24 hours

Exception reports are sent to the Maintenance Manager if any of the above metrics are not within the agreed upon range.

Plant, Mine, Operations Site Manager Meeting (60 minutes max): Maintenance Manager takes about 10 minutes to describe any issues within the past 24 hours that caused losses or issues that may cause losses in the next 7 days. If additional time is needed to discuss these items, this should be addressed outside of this meeting with specific individuals.

Plant Visit: Randomly, the Maintenance Manager should visit each crew area to see what is happening. Sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words. Talk to the Maintenance Supervisor first to hear about any issues he/she is facing and that need to be resolved. Set a time to meet later to discuss, either that day or another depending on the importance to the Maintenance Supervisor. While on the visit, greet everyone you see and ask operators and maintainers how things are going. Try to spend no more than 30 minutes in each crew area.

Guiding Principles for a Proactive Maintenance Manager

Leadership Principles
  • Treat everyone as your equal and demonstrate respect and humbleness.
  • Know each maintenance person by name.
  • Know each Planner by name.
  • Take time to talk to someone who has an issue at a scheduled time and place, and respond back to that person within 48 hours. Make it policy. Maintenance management should not be rude or report on trivial things that do not matter to anyone in the organization.
  • Know yourself and seek self-improvement every day.
  • Never ask anyone to execute a task you would not do yourself.
  • Treat others as you like to be treated; put yourself in their position.
Organization Principles
  • Randomly check on planning, scheduling, stores, and tool storage areas.
  • Require wrench time studies to be conducted of each crew by specific crew members after they have been trained and certified in the process. These should be conducted every 3-6 months depending on previous trends. All reports should be presented to the Maintenance Manager by the Maintenance Supervisor and no one else. This should be a private conversation.
  • Ensure that Work Order data is under control and providing accurate reports.
  • Ensure that a Failure Reporting, Analysis, and Corrective Action System (FRACAS) is owned by each Maintenance Supervisor and request monthly reports from them.
Management Principles
  • Guide your organization through the use of KPIs so you know your group is headed in the right direction. If a KPI is driving in the wrong direction, initiate a team to identify the problem and recommend a solution with 48 hours.
  • Post only KPIs that may be important to each maintenance crew.
  • Require a 30-minute Single Point Lesson to be presented and discussed by each crew on a weekly basis. This should not be safety related, but technical in nature. Safety meetings are separate.
  • Maintenance and Reliability Engineering should have direct access to the Maintenance Manager during specific hours of the week and exceptions should only be made on an emergency basis.

Maintenance Managers hold the key to success or failure of any maintenance organization. If the manager is weak, then he must be given assistance first and let go only after a three month period of not showing improvement. Proactive Maintenance Managers are the unsung heroes of any organization. People look up to them with respect and calmness, even in tough situations. I salute all Maintenance Managers for handling this difficult job. If you feel you have issues, you must work to develop. Find a mentor to assist you, but make sure the mentor is competent and studious.

2. What is the Best Technique used for Outages?

This is an area many companies struggle with. Based on my experience, I have made all the mistakes one can make in trying to improve or optimize the outage process when I was a manager. What I have found work is a few basic principles:
  • Keep the review of an outage simple and focused
  • Host the outage review with people who know the lessons learned (typically maintenance technicians and operators)
  • Do not make a long list of things which went wrong or right
Use the 2 Up / 2 Down Rule of Outage Review (use a white board or flip chart for this process)
  • Identify 2 things which did not go right (2 Down) and need to be improved (2 only)
  • Identify 2 things which went well (2 Up) and should be sustained (2 only)
Post the items listed on the 2 Up / 2 Down Outage Review in your shop and re-visit during the planning process for the next outage.
  • Develop a plan to insure these 2 items which went wrong are moved to the sustained area after the next outage.
  • Continue this process immediately after all outages.

3. How do you manage a tool room to help in plant reliability?

Managing Maintenance Tools for Optimizing Reliability

The Tool Room must be managed as if you were securing gold. If a tool is misplaced it can cause great grief and extensive downtime. All tools in the storeroom should be used to store special tools and available to be used by every maintenance person on that crew.

Here is what I did as a maintenance supervisor so know if works great.

Build a caged in area with a top, walls, and secure with a key all maintenance personnel have a copy. A new copy of the key cost a maintenance person 6 months with Tool Box Responsibility.

Here is where it gets good.

Assign each maintenance person tool chips (use 10 brass ones held on a ring, attached to a maintenance persons belt).

My Tool Chip as a Maintenance Engineer – This is where I got the idea.

Assign a maintenance person an additional duty for one week which must be in completed each day during the last 15-30 minutes of their shift. This assignment should be rotated weekly and people held accountable to accomplish the assigned task to standard. A maintenance supervisor insures this occurs. People will not like it at first however after a while they will love it. (Maintenance Planners/Schedulers must schedule this person for this time according to this key job duty-a work order is written so all repaired tools and the maintenance person’s time can be charged.

The Maintenance person is responsible for one week and must; (no options and Maintenance Supervisors is accountable to make sure this happens)

  1. Keep the Tool Cage Clean
  2. Keep the Tool Cage Secure (no unlocked Tool Cages with exception at the beginning of the shift and the maintenance supervisor handles this task)
  3. Insure all special tools are returned at the end of each day. If a tool is missing within 15 minutes of the change of shift it is this person’s responsibility to locate that person, see if they are working overtime (if so remind them of returning the tool)
  4. Make sure all tools are in working condition and if not send them out to a vendor for repair or replacement. Recorded, reported to supervisor, and controlled.
  5. Insure all electrical cords and equipment are checked monthly and marked with electrical phase tape if they are in safe condition.

This maintenance person’s responsibility is for one week and takes 10 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at the end of the shift max.

This is the start of getting your maintenance team working together for success along with learning discipline, accountability and teamwork.

People will not like it at first but after a while they will love it.

What is Maintenance Planning?

Maintenance Planning: Identifying the parts, tools, procedures, and standards/specifications required for effective maintenance work, increasing wrench time, and reducing rework.

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Should a Maintenance Manager Understand the Fundamentals of Reliability Engineering?

The more tools a maintenance manager has in his/her hip pocket the more effective they become. So why not train a maintenance manager in the Fundamentals of Reliability Engineering?

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Allied Reliability provides asset management consulting and predictive maintenance solutions across the lifecycle of your production assets to deliver required throughput at lowest operating cost while managing asset risk. We do this by partnering with our clients, applying our proven asset management methodology, and leveraging decades of practitioner experience across more verticals than any other provider. Our asset performance management solutions include Consulting & Training, Condition-based Maintenance, Industrial Staffing, Electrical Services, and Machine Reliability.

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